Children's Literature in Education

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 323–337 | Cite as

Navigating Between Home and Empire: Mobility and Male Friendship in Tom Brown’s Schooldays and The Three Midshipmen

  • Soyoun Kim
  • Claudia Nelson
Original Paper


In this article, we investigate the public school novel as represented by Thomas Hughes’s Tom Brown’s Schooldays (1857) and the boy’s sea story as represented by W. H. G. Kingston’s The Three Midshipmen (1873). The school novel and the sea story sometimes functioned as twinned forms enabling authors for boys to explore anxieties about male selfhood and relocating oneself in the larger community while growing up. As becomes especially apparent when they are read together, these novels address the boy’s relationship to home and empire, rootlessness and rootedness. The coming-of-age plot found in the boys’ books reveals a literature that embraces both rootlessness/mobility and rootedness/community and that posits an all-male version of something closely resembling domestic life as a way to navigate between the two.


Thomas Hughes, Tom Brown’s Schooldays W. H. G. Kingston, The Three Midshipmen Male friendship School story Sea story 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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